Adaptive vs. Responsive Design: Which Is Right For You?
According to a report issued by eMarketer, mobile is expected to reach over 5.3 billion users in 2017. The global rise of mobile is a fact that should capture the attention of all professionals involved in the sector and inspire them to rethink their current strategies of branding, interaction and conversion.
One of the biggest dilemmas experienced by designers today is the choice between responsive and adaptive design. Here’s what you should know about these two design solutions to make the best choice for your app or website.
Responsive design basically tweaks a website’s CSS code, allowing the page to automatically adjust to any operating system or browser layout. One of its biggest advantages is the fact that you’re working on the same consistent codebase. Developers don’t need to face the maintenance of multiple code versions of one website.
As you can imagine, the simplicity of design and maintenance has a direct impact on the costs of such design. Responsive design offers a radical reduction in development time and costs by offering one website that works for both mobile and desktop. Responsive design works great for SEO too, since all page views are streamlined through one URL.
That’s not to say that responsive design is without drawbacks. Its major fault is load time. Website elements aren’t resized but scaled down, some of which can have a negative impact on user experience. A complex website that loads fast on desktop might take a while to load on mobile – and we all know what every second of waiting does to a website’s conversion rate.
To avoid this problem, developers have been turning more and more often to a strategy called adaptive design or adaptive delivery. How does it differ from responsive design? The server hosting the website simply detects the kind of device making requests to it and on the basis of this information, it delivers different sections of HTML and CSS code, always in accordance with the characteristics of the detected device.
The real potential of adaptive design lies in the possibility of creating an experience built for the specific intent of the user. A website of an airline might feature large images in its desktop version, but its mobile variant can be focused on providing the right information to users searching for flights on the go. The mobile website will most likely include a simple search engine that allows users to quickly check ticket availability and prices.
In short, adaptive design promises a better performance, improves user experience and perfectly captures user intent.
Which one is right for you?
Responsive design should be your choice if you’re planning to deliver a content-heavy and functional website, which you don’t expect to respond to a different user intent between mobile and desktop versions. Users won’t lose anything by accessing your website on a mobile device and you’ll save funds on adopting this cheap solution.
Adaptive design, on the other hand, is perfect for websites where user intent on mobile differs from desktop and its performance is a crucial factor for user satisfaction and conversion.
In the end, both strategies have their advantages, so the ultimate choice will be determined by the needs of your target audience, which, combined with your business tactics, has a potential to enhance your results and make the conversion rate of your website skyrocket.
About the Author:
Monique Rivers is an Australian tech blogger who also loves good food and fashion. She works at ninefold.com. Ninefold is a powerful Ruby on Rails platform, that allows you to deploy Rails apps quickly and easily.